Arsenal through as Ozil crowns epic comeback
MESUT OZIL scored a superb winner as Arsenal came from 2-0 down to beat Ludogorets 3-2 in Sofia yesterday and qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.
Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are the two big names in Group A and both were in a position to advance to the last 16 with two games to spare.
The Gunners did so and the victory keeps them on course to go through as group winners.
Ozil’s wonder strike to secure the victory will steal the headlines as the gifted German ran from deep to complete the comeback in style.
As goalkeeper Milan Borjan ran out of the box to meet him, Ozil lifted the ball over him, sold a dummy to two scrambling defenders and coolly tapped in the winner on 88 minutes.
Boss Arsene Wenger, whose decision to pick a strong side despite the looming North London derby on Sunday against Spurs eventually paid off, said: “Great players make the right decisions.
“They take the optimum solution. To me, (at first) it didn’t look like the optimum solution – you wanted him to take the chance earlier.
“But he had enough skill to prove he was right. When the ball was in the back of the net, it was clear it had been the optimum solution.”
“I told them not to panic at 2-0 down and stick to our game,” Wenger added.
“The most difficult thing is to be consistent at the top level. Hopefully we can go further now.”
The Bulgarian champions had gone in front on 12 minutes when Jonathan Cafu reacted quicker than the Arsenal defence to convert a freekick from close range.
Cafu then turned provider when Kieran Gibbs fell as the Brazilian dropped a shoulder, allowing him to cross for in-form striker Claudiu Kesuru to clip home his 10th goal in 14 games.
But then came Arsenal’s astonishing turnaround.
Alexis Sanchez sent Ozil on a run down the left and he set up Granit Xhaka for a precise left-foot strike to pull a goal back on 21 minutes.
Aaron Ramsey, back in the Arsenal line-up, provided a pin-point cross to set up Olivier Giroud, who powered home his header to equalise on 41 minutes as Borjan mistimed his run.
“It’s tough for them but we never gave up,” said Arsenal’s French striker Olivier Giroud.
“We killed them on the counterattack. I had a great delivery from Aaron and I finished the job.”
David Ospina was again selected in goal for Arsenal in the Champions League ahead of Petr Cech and the Colombian proved his worth twice with Wanderson bearing down on him before Ozil won it for Arsenal. – AFP